Cryptozoology and the Troubles with “Skeptics” and Mainstream Pundits

Henry Bauer

Abstract


 

Abominable Science by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero. Columbia University Press, 2013. xvi + 411 pp. $29.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0231153201.

This book is superbly produced by a prominent university press. It is also intellectually shoddy, even dishonest. Science is described in naïve shibboleths that bear no relation to how science is actually done. The chapters about individual cryptids are chock-full of misrepresentation and evasion of the best evidence.
Abominable Science is unsatisfactory in ways that are all too common with self-styled “skeptics”:
They assume authority but reveal ignorance.
Their underlying agenda is scientism, the belief that whatever contemporary science says is true.
They claim to speak for “science” but get much wrong about science and its history.
They debunk instead of being skeptical.
They do not engage honestly with the strongest evidence.
They imply guilt by association (all anomalists are “flat-earthers”) and thereby lapse into irrelevance and ad hominem distortions.
In addition, Abominable Science is extraordinarily replete with illogic.
Loxton and Prothero purport to examine the cases of 5 cryptids: Bigfoot (Chapter 2), Yeti (Chapter 3), Nessie (Chapter 4), sea serpents (Chapter 5), Mokele Mbembe (Chapter 6). Chapter 1 is about whether cryptozoology is science or pseudo-science, and the concluding Chapter 7 asks why people believe in monsters.

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